North Tonawanda Winter Walk

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

They were walking and enjoying the season at the Winter Walk celebration in North Tonawanda this past weekend.

Webster and Oliver streets were packed with people of all ages enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The event is sponsored by the Downtown and Oliver Street Merchants Association and for many it has become an annual tradition.

One of the more popular events was at Crazy Jakes where, for the past 10 years, Luke Topolski and a group of kids have been making ginger bread houses to support Habitat for Humanity.



They are hoping to make more than 300 houses this year with all of the money raised going to help those in need.

Incredibly, the group has raised more than $20,000 over the past 10 years, but sadly this year will be their last.

“It’s sad that I can’t do it anymore,” said Topolski, “but we are going to try and find someone to do it next year.”

In addition to tasting sweet treats people also had a rare chance to get an up-close look at a firetruck from the Sweeney Hose. It was something just as fun for the volunteer firefighters as it was for the kids who had a chance to ride on the truck.

“I have two kids of my own,” said Joe Lavey, President of Sweeney Hose, “so something like this is absolutely incredible. That is how a lot of us got into volunteer firefighting. Because when we were kids the fire departments did this kind of stuff, and now we are doing it to hopefully breed some new interest too.

Bridget Getz wasn’t walking, but rather riding around on a float that she and her friends put together dressed as the Grinch, a Snowman, a Reindeer, a toy soldier. Even Santa was on board. They rode up and down Webster and Oliver Streets spreading holiday cheer and helping those in need.

“This is not paid for by anyone but this crew here and it is just fun to go around and see everyone’s faces light up and collect some canned goods for the NT food pantry,” said Getz.



“We drive around every Saturday night to different neighborhoods and collect canned goods, non-perishables, hygiene products and donate 100 percent of it to the North Tonawanda food pantry.”

From the very old to the very young holiday cheer was being spread at the North Tonawanda Senior Center where hot chocolate was being served at their annual inter-generational event.

“We have the children come in, they buy a gift for a dollar for their family members and loved ones. Then the seniors wrap them for free and then we give out hot chocolate and cookies. It benefits everyone, it is not a fundraiser but just an event to help get all the generations together,” said Pam Hogan, North Tonawanda Senior Center.

The sounds of the holidays also filled the air. Kids from Buffalo Suzuki Strings took to streets to play Christmas songs for the community and put on two free concerts for everyone to enjoy.

“Music is everything,” said Linda Ross, Administrative Director. “It is what makes us human. It allows us to express our emotions and allows us to deal with our emotions. It lets us think logically, it develops neuropathways that allows us to memorize, and our kids play everything from memory.”


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